A philosopher wrote in to share a lesson she learned recently.
Elizabeth Radcliffe (William & Mary) writes:
I wonder if others have had the experience of finding one or more referee invitations from journals in their spam or junk e-mail folders. This has happened recently to me and to someone else. In that person’s case, the journal had written months back and had contacted the person with two follow-up e-mails, all of which, he discovered, landed in the spam mail folder. In my case, the request, from a different journal, was only about a week old. I rarely check my junk mail, but decided to do so when I heard about this case—and was surprised to find the same thing had happened to me. I’m mortified to think how many times this might have happened in the past, since any junk mail older than 3 weeks is deleted automatically by my system.
What the e-mails seem to have in common is that they contain an active URL (http://www… etc.) for the site where the journal instructions and submission are located. Perhaps this triggers an anti-spam program to discard the e-mail, in order to thwart clicking on links that download viruses?
It would be good for journal editors to be aware of this problem, especially if they frequently don’t get replies to their requests. But it also behooves all of us to be checking our spam and junk mail folders.
Depending on your university’s email system, you may be able to whitelist certain email addresses so that they’re less likely to get blocked. “Unjunking” the messages probably helps train the system’s spam filter, but I don’t know to what extent. If others have suggestions on how to avoid this problem, feel free to share. In the meanwhile, check your junk mail.